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6 Ways to Know It’s NOT an Emergency
I love this job. I get to write stories that help people understand how to use their health care the right way. And how to get the most from their health care benefits. It’s like giving advice at a dinner party but getting paid for it. Who wouldn’t love that?
One thing I’ve been talking about for years has been emergency care. What it is, and what it isn’t. My friends are tired of hearing about it.
I get it. When your child is sick on a Friday night, your first thought isn’t about choosing the best place to go to save time and money. Your first thought is to do what you can to keep your child from pain and suffering. And since you aren’t a doctor, you also aren’t sure how serious that fever is or what could happen if you don’t get care right away. Am I right?
There isn’t anything I can say to make you think that choosing the right place to go is more important than getting care right away. I’m in the business of knowing this stuff, and I still would make my choice based on what my child needs. Not how much it will cost me.
So, let’s talk about it now, while you aren’t in panic mode. Let’s make a list that will stick in your head, so the next time you need to decide what to do, your brain will take you in the right direction without a second thought.
Here’s a starting list of times you don’t need to go to the ER. Enjoy.
Going to an ER doctor for any of these problems is like going to a heart specialist when you have a cold. Let those guys use their time to take care of the heart attacks, gunshot wounds and car crash victims.
Think of it this way: If you don’t need an ambulance with sirens blaring -- speeding to the nearest ER -- you might not need the care of a highly trained ER doctor. If you can call the ER to see how busy they are, it probably isn’t the right time to go.
And here’s the lecture part my friends hate: If you’re at the ER for anything but an emergency, you’re in the wrong place.
Want a longer list? Leave me a note in the comments. The full list isn’t going to fit here.
Originally published December 9, 2014; Revised 2019
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